Wednesday, 30 May 2018
I got very jealous of the Rose-coloured Starling at Ashington the other week but news of numbers building up in central Europe and an impending invasion left me optimistic and seemingly with good reason as on Wednesday last week this little cracker was found at Flamborough round the back of Thornwick Pools before it relocated to St David's Lane at North Landing. I was in South-west Scotland enjoying the sun and finding Goshawk territories. Much fun was being had but not for dissemination here sadly. I did however think that catching a flier may get me back in time to catch up with this bird and the Grey-headed Wagtail also in the same area. Alas for the latter it was not to be but I got almost immediate views of the Starling flying out of the garden it favoured. After 30 mins of obscured views in the hedge it finally flew into the garden but it teased by hiding at the back before plucking the courage up to get stuck into the fat balls that had kept it occupied all day. Eventually it did succumb and was on show for a minute or so on the lawn before disappearing again. With that I took my leave but an excellent time was had and lovely views of a super male.
Sunday, 13 May 2018
This morning at Flamborough I was working my way along Old Fall Hedge when a message came out that June and Malcolm had found a pair of Dotterel near Highcliffe Manor in a drilled field. I worked out whether it would be quicker to run round or too drive to South Landing - the latter and I pegged it back to the car. Various folks were assembling but I was first on the scene only for June to say they'd just spooked across the field out of view. Dotterel is a bird I need for Yorkshire so I was very keen to catch up with them. I outpaced the other birders to the corner only to see them dive over the cliff thanks to an erstwhile jogger and his dog. Curses were heard from those arriving a moment too late whilst I was delighted to see them it was very fleeting.
Thankfully the birds, a male and female did the decent thing and relocated back in the field allowing very good views. They were flighty throughout and a Skylark put them up. Sadly after 10 minutes or so the Coastguard Helicopter flushed them to the horizon and they disappeared to the North-west. I managed a few brief record shots and a bit of breathy video. These were number 318 for Yorkshire and 200 for Flamborough.
Thursday, 10 May 2018
|Female Golden Whistler|
Our final stop of the day was at Bushell's Lagoon. On the way a gaggle of Royal Spoonbill refused to embrace their inner Yellow-faced Spoonbill. We found a dead Budgie by the side of the road, alas one of the feral morphs. As we approached a number of Dusky Woodswallows were collected on posts and these were joined by Zebra Finches. Walking down to the lagoon were loads of raptors with Brown Goshawk, several Whistling Kite which were the first of the trip, Nankeen Kestrel, and a couple of Australian Hobbies which were hawking high above. A couple of young White-bellied Sea Eagles joined the raptor-fest. White-faced Herons were notable as were some Estralid finches working the orchards on the fringes. We had good views of Double-barred Finches and some Nutmeg Mannikins were expected fare. These mixed with the Zebra finches but we couldn't find any Plum-headed Finches. We packed up and stopped to look for White-winged Trillers not far away whilst flagging due to lack of sleep and the heat. A feral goose disgraced itself by taking bread but we were celebrating my last lifer of the day when an Azure Kingfisher gave us a brief flyby. We moved off and Steve dropped me in central Sydney for my train to Canberra. A brief goodbye and one of my best birding weekends was over. Immense and thanks again to Steve. His account with superior photos is here:
Wednesday, 9 May 2018
|Antipodean Wandering Albatross|
I booked onto a pelagic out of Sydney for 10th March way before my trip. It excited me a lot. This was the highlight to the entire trip as far as I was concerned. I adore being offshore and have very sturdy sea legs so don't suffer from mal de mer. Nick Addey very kindly put me in touch with Steve Hey, a Scarborough birder who has decamped to Sydney and equally kindly Steve offered to put me up for a night and show me some birds after the pelagic and the following day. Steve went above and beyond and I cant thank him or his lovely wife Vicky enough.
Several Crested Terns and many Silver Gulls were foraging about the harbour but we couldn't pick out any Little Blue Penguins as we left. It took a while to get clear of the Heads but once a mile or two off the first Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were seen crossing the bow. A little chum and a swarm of these cracking birds was present off the back. As we ventured further it was pointed out that a handful of Flesh-footed Shearwaters had joined the throng. Immature Pomarine Skuas came and went, largely disinterested in the shearwaters but hoping that the oily slick may contain a choice morsel. A nudge in the ribs from Steve helped me to see a distant Short-tailed Shearwater that flitted in and out of the flock like a compact Sooty. By this stage several hundred wedgies were off the boat, all dark phase, and I was picking the Flesh-footed out with a little more ease. Hutton's Shearwaters were seen passing in small numbers, rarely interested in what was going on and very reminiscent of Manxies in behaviour.
|Flesh-footed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters|
Further Short-tailed Shearwaters were seen and a candidate Fluttering Shearwater but sadly it was not to be. I missed a Sooty Shearwater and a couple of Wilson's Petrels but frankly I didn't care. The Wandering Albatross remained until just a couple of miles offshore. A small pod of Risso's Dolphin's showed briefly and just off the heads as we returned a large dolphin was nearly run over and I got decent views of the fin and back. A False Killer Whale! Amazing.
As we passed the nudist beach a couple of the Aussies tried to convince me there was a colony of brown boobies on the rocks before collapsing into fits of giggles about willie wagtails. It takes all sorts I guess! Still no penguins. It was quite late in the afternoon and Steve suggested trying Centenary Park for a few species. A handful of specials were on the cards and we bumped into local raptor expert and the dude impersonator Biggles of Solander. Biggles is avant garde, Biggles definitely smokes large quantities of cannabinoids and has done since the late 60s however Biggles knows birds of prey in the Sydney area. Unfortunately before I even know what we are looking for he says they aren't there. The Powerful Owls, the aren't there. They have an alternate unviewable roost and sadly we won't be seeing them today. Ah, Biggles you bugger. Thankfully he had lots of gen on where to find Tawny Frogmouth and before you know it I found one near the regular roosting areas. Not bad considering how busy the park is. A classic Australian bird and full of character even if it didn't actually move. The final part of the parks charismatic triumvirate is Buff-banded Rail and some patience sees excellent views of an adult briefly before a juvenile gives us a little more of a show. Elsewhere in the park we see my first Hardhead, which is a Fudge duck sort of thing and a Little Black Cormorant. We thank Biggles and push on to a golf course to make hay in the final hour of sun.
|Juvenile Buff-banded Rail|
How birds and brains become mutually exclusive